A $3.5 trillion progressive wish list Democrats want to ram through the Senate is already causing one moderate Democrat to frown.
Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a critical potential stumbling block to passage of the plan, was a rarity among Senate Democrats this week in voicing caution about the latest megabucks plan to emerge from the Biden White House in collaboration with congressional Democrats.
Democrats are larding their hodgepodge proposal with a collection of far-left priorities. For example, Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington said it will fund a pathway to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants, according to Fox News.
Because the $3.5 trillion behemoth is classified as a budget bill, Democrats are not the least interested in Republican support.
Using the same tactics that secured passage for this spring’s coronavirus relief bill, Democrats want to get all 50 Democratic senators in line. When the 50 Republicans line up against the bill, as they have vowed to, Democrats will trot out Vice President Kamala Harris to break the tie.
However, that strategy requires Manchin to support the plan, something that is not a given.
“I’m open to looking at everything they provide. … The president’s coming today to explain,” Manchin said Wednesday prior to President Joe Biden’s meeting with senators about the plan, according to The Washington Post.
“We’ll listen to that. We’ll look at the proposal, look at the priorities they have for our country, and then basically look at how we’re going to pay for it.”
Or, as one Post reporter quoted him as saying: “We have to pay for all this.”
NEW @Sen_JoeManchin” on $3.5T recon topline…
“We’re anxious to review it.”
Wants to see the payfors
“Is it going to be globally competitive?”
Expresses concerns about debt, inflation
“Dental is a very important part of a person’s health… But we have to pay for all this.”
— Mike DeBonis (@mikedebonis) July 14, 2021
Manchin signaled his concern for the national debt in other remarks he made Tuesday.
“I think we’ve incurred over 28 and a half trillion dollars of debt and I’d like to start paying for it,” he said, according to Insider.
“I think everything should be paid for now. I think we’ve put enough free money out.”
“How much debt can y’all handle?” he said when speaking of the multi-billion-dollar infrastructure bill also being considered.
Manchin, who represents the heart of America’s coal country, also indicated the Senate plan to jam green energy down the throats of Americas might stick in his craw.
“I know they have the climate portion in here, and I’m concerned about that,” Manchin said, according to CNN.
“Because if they’re eliminating fossils, and I’m finding out there’s a lot of language in places they’re eliminating fossils, which is very, very disturbing,” he said, “because if you’re sticking your head in the sand, and saying that fossil (fuel) has to be eliminated in America, and they want to get rid of it, and thinking that’s going to clean up the global climate, it won’t clean it up all. If anything, it would be worse.”
Manchin said he is not staking out a position yet, but will be talking with the bill’s advocates in the days to come.
“I think reasonable people, if you show them the facts, and you agree that these are the facts, you’ll make the adjustments accordingly. And that’s what I’m hopeful for. … I’m going to do everything I can to make sure the United States of America remains energy independent.”
The connection between even more spending and greater inflation is also nagging at Manchin.
“I’m concerned,” Manchin said. “I’m going to talk to some economists. I’m going to dig deep into that. People in West Virginia, I spoke about this right now, are paying much higher gas prices; they’re paying food prices. … It’s not just a threat; it’s happening.”
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